CBM on 18 suspected hazardous areas completed

The implementation of a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) which provided for the sweeping of eighteen suspected hazardous areas on both sides of the divide, in Cyprus, that might be contaminated with mines was completed this week.

The Cyprus News Agency has learned that nothing suspicious was identified. The areas checked are situated along the ceasefire line and close to the edges of the buffer zone. Nine of them are in the government-controlled areas of the Republic and nine of them in the areas occupied by the Turkish troops since 1974.

The implementation of the CBM that was agreed between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci began last May.

It was part of a number of CBMs agreed between Aanstasiades and Akinci during an informal meeting they had last February and was implemented by the two sides with the support of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). CNA has learned that its implementation will officially be announced in January in the UN Secretary General’s report on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate.

Meanwhile, a source of the Greek Cypriot side has told CNA that bicommunal Technical Committees are looking into proposals for other CBMs, however nothing has been agreed so far. The same source noted that the functioning of the Technical Committees has improved, adding at the same time that we do not want to focus on the CBMs at the political level. What is most important for us is how the negotiations on the Cyprus issue will resume.

Moreover, the source noted that the Technical Committees operate independently from the negotiating process and what might be the single contact point between the the two processes is the constant effort to create the appropriate political climate that will be conducive to the resumption of the negotiations and their successful fulfillment.

Right now the Technical Committees operate in a more intensified way, they are all active and are looking into ideas and proposals, while previously some of them were not active since they did not meet for some time, the source noted.

Our effort is for them to be effective and productive. There is a mechanism for strengthening their work through EU funding that facilitates them to undertake initiatives and propose concrete projects, that will be beneficial in serving their aims, the source said.

According to information, an exhibition of the art works and audiovisual recordings that were exchanged between the communities, in the framework of the work of the Technical Committee on Culture, will take place at the beginning of next year. Anastasiades and Akinci will be invited to attend the opening of the exhibition.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency